In the past years, push notifications grew in demand and importance as a channel for event organisers to communicate with and re-engage attendees. And that with good reason! As Ariel Seidman put it: “It’s hard to over-hype the power of mobile push notifications. For the first time in human history, you can tap almost two billion people on the shoulder and say “Hey, pay attention to this!”  If used well, push notifications will help you to achieve excitement and engagement among your attendees. Studies have shown that users that receive a push notification within the first 90 days after their first app open have 3x higher retention rates than those who do not!¹ But there’s still room for improvement: When asked if push notifications are helpful, only one in five respondents agreed.² Reason enough to have a closer look at the right methodology and best practices for push notifications.

What are push notifications?

Push notifications are the best way to keep attendees in the know with the most up-to-date information about your event. It is a message that pops up on their mobile devices at any time; they don’t have to be in the app or using their phones to receive them. The simple, text-based messages can be up to 115 characters long. About 68% of users enable push notifications when asked.¹

Getting the opt-in

Organisers can only communicate via push notifications if users are willing to receive them. iOS apps require a user to grant permission, while Android does not. Convincing users to opt-in is important for the success of your app: 65% of users return to an app within 30 days when push is enabled!¹ The best way to get users to opt-in is to be transparent about what push notifications you will send. If people know what’s coming their way, they’ll be more open to receiving your notifications. We at Conference Compass already prepared this step for you in all our apps.

Stay relevant

Once you’ve gotten users to opt-in, you’ll be able to interact and engage with them in an intimate, personalised way. But don’t mistake push notifications for emails or tweets: The content of your message has to be relevant and worth the read. Only send notifications of important information that your attendees need to know, not for newsletters or comments. If you are sending out notifications that are not interesting to at least the majority of your attendees, you run the risk of people turning them off and not reading any messages in the future.

Valuable content

Short and eye-catching messages are a must to grab your audience’s attention. Many attendees might not open the notification, but read the message on the lock screen. Messages like “Join us for Lunch in the Main Hall!” are sure to be understood immediately and are valued by your attendees. If you have a long message to send, make your most important point in the first line. That way, you get your message across even if attendees don’t read the entire message. Make sure to include a link in the message behind the notification that guides the user to the specific screen relevant to the notification you just sent, like further information about a session.

The right timing

If you are constantly bombarded with messages, you can easily grow tired of it or get annoyed. It is difficult to pinpoint the perfect amount, but studies lean towards the fewer notifications, the better. Fortunately, users are more open towards notifications during such intense times as conferences or events, provided that the update is relevant. Overusing your push power will destroy your event app adoption. When you send your notification, have an eye on the time and programme of your event. No attendee wants to be interrupted during a keynote presentation or at 6 in the morning. Use times such as breakfast or lunch breaks to communicate with your attendees. The easiest way to do so is by scheduling your messages in advance and let your app do the rest! Last but not least: Re-engage your audience after the event and bring them back into the app by notifying them about open post-event surveys or new content.


¹Urban airship, ²Localytics